There is only one English convention, as of right now, for the whole island. There was about 650 -700 everyday in attendance which included 30 brothers from the Russian groups. Being that there were brothers from so many different countries, it was like a mini-international convention! Of the countries I can recall, there were brothers and sisters from USA, Russia, Norway, Mexico, Denmark, Canada, India, Germany, China, Korea, Sweden, England, and Scotland.
A lot of the parts on the convention are slightly catered to the needs of the need greaters. Not that they are changed from other conventions, but Bethel tends to have some of the talks, demos, and interviews apply to the life and challenges that face need greaters. This years theme of remaining loyal to Jehovah was absolutely perfect!
My favorite part was on Saturday afternoon during the talk "Loyal Despite Direct Attacks". It talked about how our loyalty to Jehovah can be tested in many ways, and that a lot of those ways are from family, and friends in the congregation.
The brother asked this question. "Brothers, have you ever heard this? 'You're moving to the Dominican Republic?! To preach?!'' Everyone laughed because indeed everyone had heard those words before. How loyal were we to Jehovah and our goal of serving where the need was great? He interviewed a sister who has been a need greater here for about 7 years from Michigan with her husband and two kids. She said that her loyalty was tested because when she told everyone, some of her family and some friends in the congregation, that their plan was to move to DR and serve where the need was great she got questions and statements like:
Why are you moving all the way over there when you can preach here at home?
You're moving to another country, with kids? How can you do that to your kids?
Are there hospitals where you're going? How will you survive?
She said that it was hard but they trusted in Jehovah and was determined to accomplish the goal they had set as a family. She said the blessings have been tremendous and that they have no desire to go back and live. They love serving Jehovah as need greaters in the DR.
It was great to hear that interview because we could relate. We experienced a little of that as well from different ones. Some just couldn't understand how we could just pick up and move to another country and serve; even though the Faithful and Discreet Slave have been emphasizing it for some time now. Specifically in the JW broadcasts and Watchtower and Awake articles! It gave us the strength and determination to stay on track with our goal of serving in the DR as a family... Yes, with kids
There was also a sister who has been a need greater for 16 years in the DR as a single mom and another couple who participated in the Watchtower study who had has served for about 15 years as need greaters who have 5 teenage children! In both instances they brought out how they NEVER lacked anything they needed while they were here, especially through the harder times. Jehovah blessed their efforts and made sure they were taken care of while they enjoyed accomplishing their goal to help with the preaching activity. I heard it mentioned a couple times that many won't know the life of serving where the need is great until they actually try it out. Some just won't understand the hardships but mostly the joys and blessings from making sacrifices for Jehovah in this way.
Serving where the need is great is not for everyone. Just as Bethel, missionary work, even regular pioneering is not for everyone. But just because its not for us or WE would never do it...why discourage someone else who has the desire to? Being loyal to Jehovah also means helping and encouraging one another, especially when that person has a goal to serve Jehovah. If a brother or sister, married couple, or even whole family says they want to serve where the need is great are we there to support them and encourage them? As Jehovah's people, we should already know that he will certainly look after those brothers and protect them, so why do we sometimes ask the questions or similar ones mentioned above? As family members and close friends its normal to miss them and want them with us; the same as if someone was going to Bethel or serving as a missionary. However, they're going away for Jehovah! Imperfection and emotion certainly get involved and that is to be expected. Because of that we should try our best to be encouraging and happy for them even though that means we will be without them for awhile. That's definitely what Jehovah wants!
Just FYI, we have overwhelmingly received more positive comments and encouragement than anything else. I just wanted to point out how this assembly helped us to not let negative comments affect our loyalty to Jehovah when it comes to our goals! The paragraph above is a mix of different points other need greaters have shared explaining what they've seen and heard in their experiences and how thinking of it from a positive point of view, Jehovah's point of view, can help us get over those concerns for our family and friends serving elsewhere.
As need greaters, we learned that we may have anxieties and concerns about serving elsewhere, but that if we're loyal to Jehovah and put our full trust in him, he will be there for us and make sure we are taken care of. We have certainly seen that the two months we've been here! Without a doubt! :)
Thanks to everyone who encouraged and helped us be here and who still do now!
At this Remain Loyal to Jehovah regional convention, as need greaters, Jehovah knew what we needed and he gave it to us.
Pics to come later :)